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IAEA refers Iran to Security Council
India again votes against Iran
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
India again voted against Iran as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today referred the Iranian nuclear file to the United Nations Security Council which has the power to impose crippling political and economic sanctions on Tehran.

A comforting factor for India was that two P-5 countries—Russia and China, which had abstained from voting on September 24 last—agreed to the referral this time only on condition that the Security Council would not take any action before March. The voting took place only after hectic days of on-record as well as back-channel diplomacy failed to bridge the gap between the stated positions of the USA and EU-3 on the one hand and powers like Cuba, Venezuela and Syria on the other.

Iran’s support base at the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors also got eroded significantly this time as the US-backed EU-3 (Germany, France and the UK) resolution was carried by the 27-3 vote, with only five abstentions. While Syria, Venezuela and Cuba voted against the EU-3 resolution, Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa abstained.

The support base for Iran shrunk as several Non-Aligned Movement countries, particularly Egypt, voted for the resolution after the revised resolution incorporated their concern and the resolution talked of the creation of the West Asia nuclear- free zone while expressing concern about Iran’s nuclear programme.

The resolution recognised “that a solution to the Iranian issue will contribute to global non-proliferation efforts and ... the objective of a West Asia free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery.”

West Asia nuclear-free zone is an obvious reference to Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapon status, which Egypt and other Arab states have long linked with Iran’s atomic ambitions.

The Manmohan Singh government was evidently saved from Left parties’ onslaught which was clear from a subdued reaction from the Left parties today. Left leaders said they would have to study the EU-3 resolution first before reacting. The four Left parties are holding a meeting here tomorrow to discuss the Iran vote.

The Ministry of External Affairs described the Resolution as “well-balanced” and argued that while there will be a report to the Security Council, “the Iran nuclear issue remains within the purview of the IAEA.”

Iran-watchers, who spoke to The Tribune, however, did not agree. Their contention is that after March, the USA does not have to go by the IAEA route and could go straight to the Security Council.

The MEA maintained that several amendments suggested by Non-aligned countries were accepted by the EU co-sponsors. It said it had been India’s consistent position that confrontation should be avoided and any outstanding issue ought to be resolved through dialogue.

The Resolution has won six weeks, before the March IAEA Board Meeting, for diplomatic efforts to continue and to get negotiations between the EU-3 and Iran back on track, the MEA contended.

It also provides an opportunity for serious consideration of the Russian proposal for a joint venture with Iran for uranium enrichment. “Our vote in favour of the Resolution should not be interpreted as in any way detracting from the traditionally close and friendly relations we enjoy with Iran,” MEA spokesperson Navtej Sarna said in response to a question.

The MEA maintained that New Delhi’s active role, along with other friendly countries, enabled the tabling of a resolution that recognised the right of Iran to peaceful uses of nuclear energy for its development, consistent with its international commitments and obligations, while keeping the door open for further dialogue aimed at resolving the outstanding issues within the purview of the IAEA.

Significantly, the MEA also called upon Iran to respond positively to the requests from the IAEA Board to restore the confidence-building measures it had voluntarily adopted in the Paris agreement, and continue to cooperate with the IAEA in resolving any outstanding issues related to its nuclear programme.

The final EU-3 resolution, which was voted upon at the extended session of an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors at Vienna today, calls on Iran to:

*Re-establish a freeze on uranium enrichment and related activities.

*Consider whether to stop construction of a heavy water reactor that could be the source of plutonium for weapons.

*Formally ratify an agreement allowing the IAEA greater inspecting authority and continue honouring the agreement before it is ratified.

*Give the IAEA additional power in its investigation of Iran’s nuclear programme, including “access to individuals” for interviews, as well as to documentation on its black-market nuclear purchases, equipment that could be used for nuclear and non-nuclear purposes and “certain military-owned workshops” where nuclear activities might be going on.


BJP asks govt to explain IAEA vote against Iran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
Accusing the Congress-led UPA of keeping the Opposition in the dark on key foreign policy issues, the BJP today demanded immediate explanation from the Manmohan Singh government over India’s vote supporting Iran’s referral to the UN Security Council.

“The government should hold a meeting of all parties immediately before the Parliament session, to explain the background of India’s vote at the IAEA meeting today,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.

His comments came after the UN nuclear watchdog agency, supported by India and 26 other countries, reported Iran to the Security Council over its nuclear programme.


Iran to curb UN checks on N-plants

Vienna, February 4
Iran will immediately curb UN inspections of its nuclear plants and pursue full-scale uranium enrichment after a UN nuclear watchdog agency vote reporting it to the Security Council, a senior Iranian official said today.

''After this decision, Iran has to immediately bring into force its parliamentary law to suspend voluntary implementation of (the watchdog agency's) Additional Protocol on snap inspections and pursue commercial-scale enrichment which until today was under full suspension,'' Javad Vaeedi, deputy Iranian nuclear negotiator, told reporters after the vote.

Without snap inspections, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) ability to monitor Iranian nuclear activities will be severely impaired, a serious blow to its safeguards regime under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Western leaders have rejected Iranian threats to end spot IAEA inspections as ''blackmail'' and said this will not deter efforts to have Iran clear-up suspicions that it seeks to build atomic bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme.

Vaeedi said the IAEA decision also raised questions whether there was any point to talks on Russia's proposal to defuse Iran's standoff with the West by taking in Iranian uranium for enrichment, in theory preventing diversions to bomb-making.

''This resolution is politically motivated since it is not based on legal or technical grounds,'' he said of the 27-3 vote with five abstentions by the IAEA's governing board. — Reuters

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